Swimming in the Dead Sea in Summer

Yesterday was my 70th birthday. Rather a big one, I think, and worthy of a big celebration. I don’t mean a big party or big money spent. I prefer to celebrate a significant transition with some kind of adventure, big or small or in-between.

I had hoped, if all went well, to be swimming in the Dead Sea this month as part of an expedition to Jordan to visit the ruins at Petra. It would be exhilarating to hike for a couple days in and around the ruins, then camp under the stars in the desert near Wadi Rum.

The same company that handled my return to Morocco to walk with Berber Nomads in 2017 and last summer’s 22-day Uncharted Expedition to Kazakhstan, Siberia, and Mongolia offers a “Women’s Expedition” to Jordan.

At first I ignored it because I thought in terms of the specialized women’s activities that one sees here and there. I surely didn’t want a frou-frou trip with shopping, make-up demos, and wine tasting. Definitely NOT my thing!

It turns out that their Woman’s Expedition involves hiking around Petra and Wadi Rum for a couple of days, camping under the stars (Love!) and, as they say in their materials “the best opportunity possible for developing a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern women – with full respect for their traditional cultural values.”

That’s what I want. Meeting Jordanian women in their homes for Middle Eastern cooking lessons, tea, the kohl experience, talking and socializing.

Of course, COVID put an end to all that. I’ve spent my days hiking familiar trails, gardening, harvesting vegetables, berry-picking, baking, installing 300+ feet of drip irrigation, bird watching, and—boring—repairing my dishwasher.

As the individual days of COVID blurred together, I decided to, at least, try one new-to-me adventure: stand-up paddleboarding.

This is what I emailed to my sons:

“It was great fun and a super workout. 100% positive experience. I loved it. I fell off three times. Lost my center of gravity, and the board shot forward out from under me. Then, Bang! Hit the water feet first and WHOOSH, rocket down Deep Deep Deep, followed by Glub Glub Glub, returning to the surface. LOL 
Getting back on the board isn’t too difficult, but I wouldn’t want to be 50 lb heavier.
Quartermaster Air temp was 61 F and water temp 65 F  (10 degrees warmer than Puget Sound). I wore my long-sleeve performance shirt under my sunblock shirt, with quick-dry river pants. Was perfectly comfortable even when wet. Actually quite refreshing.
Basic skills: Knees slightly bent.  Don’t grab the board with your toes or you’ll get cramps. Most important: Keep your core tight to control board wobble.
I knew I’d certainly be falling in. Brought a change of clothes.”

I perhaps should have been writing about my COVID experience these months. That’s what “everyone” says we should be doing—for the sake of documenting these days. But I haven’t.

I’m just trying to keep my head above water. I’ll continue to listen to the trees rustle in the breeze with the occasional scream of a gull in the distance.

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